Terminal Trouble

Credit: Kelly Massicot

I’ve been thinking about the Louisiana World Exposition a lot lately. I have a feeling I may not be the only one. But it’s not necessarily warm memories tinged with wistful nostalgia.

It’s because it was an event touted throughout the U.S. travel industry and news media in the spring of 1984 as a modern marvel of engineering with state of the art amenities. And with great fanfare, we invited the world to come to the grand opening to witness our brilliance and vision.

And it wasn’t ready. It wasn’t even close. Instead of a second line band, dignitaries from throughout the land were treated the sound of hammers and drills. And the Fair never recovered from the negative exposure.

Sound familiar? If not, book a flight to your favorite city and head on out the airport today. But good luck getting there. To the airport. To your concourse. To your intended city, for that matter. Because New Orleans just spent $1.3 billion to remind the world just how inept we can be.

The new Louis Armstrong International Airport is being hailed as perhaps the most distinctive and futuristic new American airport since Eero Saarinen’s Dulles International opened outside of Washington, D.C., in 1956.

Back then, folks from all over the region drove out the brand new freshly paved Dulles Access Road – that is its actual name – just to look at it. Key word there: “access.”

It boggles the mind to think our new structure, guided by the deft hands of renown architectural visionary Cesar Pelli, is literally inaccessible. Pelli’s team took years to craft this soaring, inspiring structure. All New Orleans had to do was build a road to it.

Oops.

As if the Hard Rock debacle was not enough of a black eye for the city, now this. Traffic snarled. Fender Bender City. TSA screeners overwhelmed. Flights missed. Luggage delayed. People cutting lines, yelling at each other. Stores aren’t open. The ones that are have few customers because non one has time to browse. Even one of the bars ran out of Bloody Mary mix over the weekend.

Is nothing sacred!

But it’s really clean, many passengers have noted. Well it better be clean; it’s only a week old! And who has got time to use the bathroom anyway? The only smell more noxious out there than jet fuel is that of ineptitude.

A project that was supposed to burnish the city’s international reputation, drag us into the 21st Century at last – with a vision of more airlines, more flights and more passengers – has instead reminded folks that sometimes we just can’t get anything right around here.

The words of Lt. General Russel Honore come to mind: Stuck on stupid. What is the point of building a bright shining city on a hill if you can’t get up the hill?

Man, oh man. Just when it seems like New Orleans was finally getting “woke” to the 21st Century, we dialed the clock back to 1984.

They say it will take at least two years to construct a viable access road to the terminal, maybe more. But I have an idea. Remember that famous “bridge to nowhere” they started to build in Alaska back in 2005 – a federal folly of extreme proportion – linking two land masses that didn’t need linking?

Maybe we should see if it’s for sale.

I mean, think about it: If it’s this bad right now, what about Thanksgiving, the airline industry’s busiest day of the year? What about Mardi Gras? What about the BCS National Championship game in January?

Well, there’s one more reason to root for LSU, I suppose. Fewer headaches at Louis Armstrong International Airport.

Call it Satchmo’s Revenge. You know, he hated this city. But that’s another post for another day. I’ve worked up my own headache now.

 

 

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